Among London restaurants, “traditional” too often means tourist trap, so if it’s a truly authentic English dining experience you seek, head to the original. Established by Thomas Rule in 1798, Rules is officially London’s oldest restaurant, and it still draws a crowd thanks to its singular focus on British culinary specialties. For more than two centuries, this Covent Garden classic has been favored by royals, politicians, and celebrities, so be sure to book well in advance for the perfect anniversary or special occasion dinner.
Feel the history come alive as you guide your sweetheart to a window-side booth where countless VIPs have dined. Take note of the assorted works of art on the walls. All of these pieces, from the oil paintings to the caricatures to the taxidermy animal heads, were cobbled together over the years, and every piece has a story (ask your waiter). Then, toast the evening with a Kate Middleton (vodka, Lillet, crystallized violets and rose petals) or a silver tankard of frothy Guinness before perusing the amazing menu. Rules specializes in game, all sourced from the restaurant’s private estate in the wild frontier of England’s High Pennines and prepared using traditional methods. Confer with your partner on which whole bird you’d like ferried on its own platter to your table – grouse, partridge, or duck – and get ready for an epic feast of historic proportions. When the final bits of meat have been plucked from the bone, your fingers licked clean, and the bowls of sticky toffee pudding cleared, sit back and hold your darling’s hand to reflect on this amazing experience. Take your time – Rules isn’t going anywhere soon.